Swindlers Target Older Women on Dating Websites | #dating | #elderly | #seniors
“He even sent me his flight itinerary to Atlanta for Christmas. I had bought him a sweater, but Christmas came and went,” she said. Later, he threatened her with not returning any of her money if she did not send more.
Her reaction to losing almost $300,000 to the swindler: “I blame myself. I felt like jumping off a cliff.”
Law enforcement authorities say the swindlers follow a similar pattern.
“They get the victim to trust them, then create a sense or urgency and prey on the trust they’ve created,” said David Farquhar of the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s financial crimes section. “These are threads in all confidence schemes,” said Mr. Farquhar, who is the section’s chief of the intellectual property and cyberenabled crimes.
Victims who are looking for romance but find online criminals instead should alert authorities, he said.
“It’s imperative for someone who thinks they have been scammed to move quickly and notify the bank and law enforcement authorities,” he said. Even so, he admitted, “The chances are not great of seeing that money again.”
While some swindlers are local, others are part of international crime rings and are more difficult to track, although, Mr. Farquhar said, the F.B.I. has personnel in a number of countries, including Nigeria and Ghana, where Internet romance swindlers operate.
Despite warnings, the digital version of the romance con is now sufficiently widespread that AARP’s Fraud Watch Network in June urged online dating sites to institute more safeguards to protect against such fraud. The safeguards it suggests include using computer algorithms to detect suspicious language patterns, searching for fake profiles, alerting members who have been in contact with someone using a fake profile and providing more education so members are aware of romance cons.